Hi from England - looking for advice on the Kettle trail.
I'm planning on cycling the Kettle Trail and have a few questions.
I'd fly into and out of Vancouver, what's the best way of getting me and my bike to Midway to start the trail and then the best way from Hope back to Vancouver? My first thought was Greyhound and although their website says that they take bikes in boxes, etc I've read a journal from someone who did the trail and had problems as Greyhound at the local depot said they only ship bikes as freight. Plus their website says you're only allowed one bit of luggage - so if they do take the bike then is that your luggage and you can't take anything else?
Other option I've been trying to find some more info about is the train from Hope back to Vancouver - Via Rail says its a flag stop, 3x a week and you have to give 48 hours notice - is it a reliable service? I'd be scared if I missed it there wouldn't be another train for 2 or 3 days and then I might miss the flight home.
Are there any other options I'm missing? Is there a train station anywhere near Midway as I can't find details.
How much of a problem are bears on the trail? I'd like to do the trail on my own, camping, carrying all my gear and food. If I take safety precautions such as putting food off the ground well away from the tent and carry bear spray is that likely to be OK? I don't know a thing about bears but I'm hoping that they keep away from people/campsites!
Any other advice/tips about the trail would be great.
Rodriguez Shiftless street fixie with S&S couplers, Kuwahara tandem, Trek carbon, Dolan track
Sorry I can't be much help, but this might help you get started:
Most people who do Kettle Valley will just fly into Kelowna and spend a couple of days in a hotel (may I recommend the bicycle-friendly Accent Inn downtown?). They'll just ride up to the KVR and just do the Kelowna section, which is probably the most scenic, with its rebuilt high wooden trestels and tunnels.
Please bear in mind that the railroad system in North America is pretty abysmal compared to anything in Europe. Not all stations are open, or take bikes. While staying in Toronto, for example, I once wanted to spend a weekend in Montreal, so I went to the Union Station early in the morning, only to find that I had to put the bike on the noon train. So I arrived in Montreal in the early afternoon and had to kill a few hours before the train arrived with the bike at 5 pm, just enough time to do a ride over Mount Royal. When I left, I had to travel back on the Sunday evening train, and then go back to Union Station in Toronto on Monday night to pick up the bike, which had just arrived from Montreal. So this is the kind of North American attitude you're up against.
If you have your heart set on starting from Midway, it's probably better to just rent a car and drive there, if you can find somebody to drive it to Hope for you.
Part of the reason for the lousy train service is that BC is VERY mountainous. There are about four mountain ranges between Vancouver and the Rockies, and as I recall, Midway is between #3 and #4 (Purcells and Monashees?). More experienced bicycle tourists than me can chime in; I haven't bothered to look, but I know Midway is way out there. Good luck!
Thanks for the reply Luis. I didn't realise the trains in Canada were like that, I'm used to been able to get on a train with my bike whenever/wherever. Flying to Kelowna and starting from there would be OK, but its how to get back there. If I had the time I'd hire a car to Midway and bike one way along the trail and then bike back the other but I don't have that much vacation time.
I've seen that there's a company that does guided tours - $2500 though. It does include transfers and camping and transporting luggage so I might bite the bullet and pay!
I'm planning a tour of the Kettle Valley trail in August. I'd love to hear if you did this within the past 2 years, and if you blogged it.
If any of you have, please pass along your recommendations, tips, highlights and lowlights. Many thanks!
It is possible to take the bus, but it will not be a pleasant experience, the bus from Vancouver is about 12 hours. Greyhound do take bikes, but they charge an extra $50.
I would consider starting in Castlegar and riding the C&W trail to Midway. On weekdays, the C&W is really nice and there are lots of camp spots. The trail is better maintained than the KVR proper and the scenery is beautiful. Depending on your pace, it will add from 1 to 5 days to your ride. On weekends, the C&W has lots of quads and though most riders are careful and kind, it still means pulling over every 5 minutes or so.
Bears are real and you may not see them, but you will see their scat. I carry an Ursack bear-proof bag to keep them out of my food. With the family, we hung our food bag 20 or so feet off the ground. There are many squirrels and coyotes that will also try to get at your food - not so dangerous, but they can make a mess.
I think there is a train back from Hope to Vancouver, and there is airplane service from Vancouver to Castlegar.
I did a writeup of our first trip on the KVR and there is a link to it on coldbike.wordpress.com
The logistics change, depending on how fast you ride, on my own, I can put in 100-200km days. With the family, we usually aim for 30km per day. Real groceries are available in Castlegar, Grand Forks, Penticton, other towns may have stores, but the trail actually bypasses many of the towns on the route.
Trail detours are consistently not marked, so having a map is a good idea.
Be sure to have wide tires on your bike. Many sections of the trail are very loose sand and gravel. If you want to get a hold of me, you can do it through my blog.